Aims and Practice

The Urban Studies Foundation (USF) was founded in 2008. We are a charitable company, regulated by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) and run by a board of eleven Trustees.

The USF’s wholly owned subsidiary Urban Studies Journal Limited (USJ) generates income by publishing an academic journal in the field of urban studies. USJ donates profits arising from this activity to the USF. Using gifted monies from the USJ, the USF strives to support institutions and individuals engaged in the advancement of postgraduate academic research and education, principally through grant funding schemes. Our main objectives are:

  • To advance academic research and education in the field of urban studies.
  • To promote knowledge transfer, exchange and mobilisation in the field of urban studies.

We realise these objectives primarily by providing significant grant funding and support to individuals and institutions engaged in the advancement of postgraduate academic research and education through our current core grant-funding streams:

In the past, we have also supported a large number of Postdoctoral Research Fellowships, Senior Research Fellowships, and postgraduate studentships. You may read about current and past USF awardees and research investments here.

Governance and practice

The USF Board of Trustees and staff meet biannually to consider grant applications, review the progress of existing awards, and to make decisions pertaining to all aspects of USF business. Much of the detailed work on particular grant-awarding schemes is conducted by sub-committees or panels of Trustees, in liaison with the USF Managing Director. Their actions and decisions are always reported in detail to the wider Board at annual general meetings, and the Board remains the sovereign body in approving all such actions and decisions. The profiles of the current Board of Trustees may be found here.

The USF makes grant awards and investments based on a rigorously competitive process whereby candidates for grant-funding schemes submit formal applications for detailed scrutiny by the awarding panel and external reviewers. This process is led by the USF Managing Director and respective awarding panels, who closely monitor the performance of applicants to all of its schemes through annual and final progress reports. This ensures that USF grants are being used correctly and as effectively as possible, and feedback (and, if necessary, censure/withdrawal of funding) is made to the relevant constituencies (e.g. fellows, mentors, host institutions). Whilst panel membership is liable to change year-on-year, the USF awarding panels are currently comprised of the following Trustees:

  • International Fellowships: Jeroen Klink (Chair), Alison Brown, and Zarina Patel.
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellowships: Rita Padawangi (Chair), Desiree Fields, Loraine Kennedy, and Zarina Patel.
  • Pandemics and Cities: Zarina Patel (Chair), Deljana Iossifova, Wangui Kimari, Rita Padawangi, Linda Peake, and Karin Pfeffer.
  • Seminar Series awards: Desiree Fields (Chair), Alison Brown, Wangui Kimari and Karin Pfeffer.

The standards of transparency, equity, integrity and confidentiality by which the USF reviews applications for research awards and other proposals for support are outlined in the USF Code of Practice (which can be downloaded here).

Individual Trustees also occupy a range of other roles in the essential functioning of the USF. For example, as the Chair, the Treasurer, and as members of internal subcommittees and working groups. It is essential that all Trustees are active in undertaking roles and tasks for the USF, in order that there is an equitable division of labour and that the USF is able to meet its mission as effectively and comprehensively as possible. Trustees are entirely unpaid for their USF work, including the Chair, although expenses are reimbursed for travelling, accommodation and possibly other small costs incurred while undertaking USF business.

Appointment to the USF Board of Trustees is made on an open competition basis, following advertisement for post(s) on the USF website (and via other channels as deemed appropriate). Such recruitment is conducted via an internal audit and survey of current board skills and attributes in order to develop criteria for appointment and nomination, as specified in the advertisement. Applications are then considered according to such criteria by a recruiting sub-committee, and a list of suitable applicants is then drawn up for deliberation by the full Board. Successful candidates will then be formally invited and nominated to join the Board. All incoming Trustees must agree to be bound by the USF’s Code of Conduct for Trustees, which outlines their duties and responsibilities to the organisation, and to disclose all relevant conflicts of interest prior to assuming the role. Breach of this code can lead to dismissal if the Trustee is found to have acted improperly and/or without due regard to the interests of the USF.

USF Code of Practice (.pdf)